Tag Archives: Leaving a Cult

FLDS vs WOFF – How People Who Leave are Treated – part 8

    The subject matter of this post is hard to begin. During my years at WOFF, I was guilty of treating those who left in the manner that I am about to describe. All I can say is that now that I am out and looking back, it is a convoluted way to treat those you may have spent hours along side working or “worshipping”.  Those who leave are shunned and it is a known reinforced rule from the top – “Do Not Call someone who leaves or speak to them unless you find out from Jane if it is okay. You could loose an attack on them and/or the church.” That was made very clear. If you talk to them without “checking it out with authority”, then the sin that caused them to leave is in you! Your devils will hook-up and you will be out of here!”

    ( One side note: most every phrase in these posts that is in quotes, has a unique meaning to WOFF and in a future post I will attempt to explain how the unique language of this group was used to further their control over members. It is a VERY common practice in religious control groups to re-define words or add new meanings to words in order to prohibit individual thought. This happens at WOFF like NO OTHER group I have been a part of or read about. As I heard recently, “He who names the game, owns the game.. )

     As mentioned in previous posts, frequently fear was pronounced on the members about what would happen if they left WOFF. Many times, those who have left would have their names brought up and used as examples of what happens when “you don’t deal with your sin”, “when you don’t open your heart”, “when you allow one thought to take you over and the devil drives you out of WOFF”, “when you hide the “unclean”, lose hold of the “call of God”. Only one time on 16 years do I remember Jane Whaley ever saying a person was better off outside of WOFF and “back with their parents..” Every other time it was a big deal when someone left. Three times, that I can remember families were “sent out”, but the underlying presumption was that they would stay in fellowship with Jane and the church and the things taught by WOFF; two families did and one family did not. (as far as I know..)

     Sometimes we would be told right away when a person left. Other times it would be a while before Jane would mention that “so and so” is gone “They did not want to serve God.” There were no good reasons to leave for most folks. Many times a “Judas spirit took them over…” or “Their rebellion took them over”.. It was no mistaking the spoken and unspoken meanings to these descriptions of those who leave- they were in trouble!

     Sad to say that when folks I had been close to left, I succumbed to the pressures to not call or speak to them. I do regret my participation in that whole scene. You just knew that there would be “hell to pay” if you were caught “fellow-shipping with the Judases”.. How much true love can be in that? It set a bad example for the children to see adults cut off long relationships over a choice made to leave a church. That is another part that I deeply regret. Our children learn by the example we set. I cannot say I set a good example while spending time at WOFF when it came to talking to those who have left or showing true love to those when may have been “put out to find a place of repentance”.

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

Continue reading FLDS vs WOFF – How People Who Leave are Treated – part 8

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We don’t do that “out from under authority..”

     In the first few years after moving to WOFF, I worked for a property management company owned by a family in the church. Though, I had many years experience in consumer finance, I had no experience in property management. That new experience in itself will proivde material for more posts at a later date. Sufficient to say that even with another part-time job at a credit union, the personal finances were tight.

     If my memory serves me correctly; these events occurred during the summer or fall of 2003. I had heard of a job opening in sales and was quite impressed with the chemicals sold by the company. I called for an interview. Later, I went to a hotel in the same city in South Carolina where I worked in property management, to speak with the regional manager of the chemical company. After leaving the interview, I did not particularly want the job; but just looking for other possibilities for income gave me hope.

     The very next church service I was called outside to speak with some “leadership” in front of the church. One of the owners of the property management company began, “I heard about the job interview.” He went on to tell me that going to the interview was not “gotten ahold of in God”. Up until that point I did not even know why I had been called out. As best I remember there were at least two other “leadership” folks there. One was the person who would eventually become the Holocaust teacher who is big on keeping people from books, TVs, magazines and newspapers.                     

  (see previous post – http://religiouscultsinfo.com/?p=284 )

     The teacher began by saying she had just gotten off the phone with Jane. (Jane was in Brazil (?)) “Jane was very grieved that you would do something like this without getting ahold of this in GodWe don’t do things like that out from under authority. You need to find a place of repentance for even allowing the thought of going to that interview.”

     At this point, the pressures mounted up more than I could take and I began to cry, slowly at first. I now realize that the “leadership” there may have taken that as a sign that I agreed. That could not have been further from the truth! As I am writing this post, I can still feel the emotion of being told I needed to repent for not asking before looking for another job! The financial pressures were too great to just ignore. Later, I found out that many at WOFF were in the same predicament, barely paying their bills. Even with the part-time job, we had taken a cut in income to move to North Carolina.

     Again, the owner of the company spoke up and asked if my wife was getting paid for teaching in the Christian school? I said “No”. He said, “I have been carrying it that she should get paid.” He would talk to Jane about that….. 

     Looking back, I should have recognized that “getting ahold of things in God” meant asking Jane for permission to do something and “being out from under authority” meant you had not asked Jane for permission. Any delusion about how things worked at WOFF, should have gone out the window! I had just been scalded for seeking employment outside the church. I went to an interview for a job that I didn’t really want. But, the pressures were too great to stay in the job I had at the time. The hours were very long and the pay was limited.

     Another thing that should have jumped out at me, the people in that meeting thought that what had just happened with me being pulled out of the church service to be told that Jane was upset with me, was normal! Apparently, everyone else there in that meeting had already been shown how critical to life at WOFF was to not “be out from under authority!”  That meant they had already been shown who ran the church! It would be five more years before I would exit from this church. Apparently, I was a slow learner.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are readers at WOFF. I KNOW for sure and will share that post soon.

     Look on the right side of any post for “Categories”, select the drop down box and view any previous post by selecting “Uncategorized”. Use the slide bar on the right to scroll down to the bottom. Select “Previous Entries” to review older posts.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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Am I Wrong? Please, Let Me Know….

     “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” – Thomas Jefferson

     Am I wrong about the list of similarities between a group like FLDS and another group such as WOFF? Am I wrong based on the facts and not emotion? It matters not how much you or anyone else love and admire Warren Jeffs or Jane Whaley. What are the observed facts about the control methods used in both groups?

     If you are in WOFF; you may say you are not being controlled. If that be the case, then express a desire to watch the news and not depend on the father-son news reporting team to funnel the “important” events to you in a service. If it be the case that there is no control over the information allowed; then subscribe to the local newspaper and read it and talk about what is in it to other members. If you are free to chose, then buy a new television and subscribe to satellite service as Jane does. A source that knows, says there are two satellites on Jane’s roof. (or at least there were a few years ago.) If there is no control going on at WOFF, then listen to your radio in your car with other members present. Why would WOFF members not be allowed to do these things?

     Concerning the beliefs in each group, they do differ. But, does that matter? No. The beliefs in many groups actually go through changes just as the methods to control individuals go through evolution and change. As far as the individuals in each group, there are very likely sweet, loving people in both groups. I can vouch for many in WOFF as being good hearted, decent people who would help you do most anything needed.

      It is the control methods used in everyday life of the members that has caught my attention. That is where lives are controlled and hurt – in the daily application of the control techniques seen in both groups. It is not just these two groups. As will be shared in weeks to come, the control methods are pretty much the same in most EVERY religious controlling group that I have studied. It is as if a “Handbook for Religious Cult Leaders” has been written and is being sold to certain individual leaders! Maybe the “book” is handed out for FREE! But, as people follow the instructions in this common scenario for controlling folks; it costs dearly. Families are broken, relationships are torn, individuals experience fear, confusion and anxiety. Children experience intense fears not beneficial for them and which may well scar them for years to come. Irrational fears begin to govern the lives of otherwise stable group members. It is amazing the dynamics of how individuals succumb to the “group think” and group pressures felt as the leaders mold and fashion the lives of their followers.

     And to all you good WOFF readers; if I am wrong on everything, then you have nothing to worry about. If I am wrong on most things, then you have a little to be concerned over. Thus, if I am right and accurate in my observations to any large degree, then all of you should take note and begin to ask some of the same questions that many who have left asked and are still asking. Asking questions is NOT a sin, no matter what you have been told. (read the quote above..)

     As Brent Jeffs said in “Lost Boy”, “It is amazing how well fear can work to surpress rational thought..” (page 99)   When the fear based control methods such as the ones outlined in previous posts are used day in and day out; the effects are devastating. Many folks do not know the depths of how they are being affected until they leave and have stopped being molded and directed by narcissistic cult leaders. Many former members try to stuff down the feelings, questions and doubts. But, it is best to get the answers to the questions that may haunt and badger those who leave a cult. There is help available.

Questions and comments may be sent to author@religiouscultsinfo.com

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are some good readers inside of WOFF. I know for sure.. 🙂

     (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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Recent Conversations – Very Revealing

     Over the last few days, I have had a couple of conversations with people who are very familiar with the environment around Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). They live in the community and have had contact with WOFF members over the years. Two events were gleened from these conversations.

     One person who is an ex-law enforcement employee with a municipality in Rutherford county shared this experience. During the build up to the “Inside Edition” expose’; a young Brazilian, who was a part of WOFF made contact with authorities and said he wanted to go home and was not being allowed. At the time of the contact, he DID NOT have his passport on him. Through a sequence of events,  another person in the community bought a return ticket to Brazil for this individual. Upon arrival at the airport with the young Brazil native; the group was met with six WOFF members attempting to surround and intimidate the young person into staying. The person telling me this had no reason to exaggerate or puff any of the details.

     Why would these events even take place? Why would WOFF attempt to keep someone in this country against their will? The rationalization may have been, “But, he said he wanted to “serve God”? In WOFF-land, to “serve God” is a thought stopping phrase with the underlying or understood meaning of being under the direction of Jane Whaley as she hears God for you and your life…

     Why even mention this story? Because I was involved in WOFF for many years during this time frame and after this event; I did not see anything to lead me to believe that the events would not be repeated in the same or similar circumstances. (Of course, that is just my opinion after being involved with WOFF for 16 years.)

     Another person told me this story during the last couple of weeks. The story began with explaining about the sad death of a young person in Rutherford county who was not a member of WOFF. After explaining their reason to be at the funeral, there was a pause. I held up my hand and finished her story by telling her that Jane and her entourage showed up acting like they were invited. There was a stunned look on this person’s face as if to say, How did you know? Simple to say I had been in so many services where a member would tell Jane that “so and so” had died. The reason to go would be discussed and then Jane would ask, “Who has it to go?” She would say if she planned on going or not and make sure the church sent a flower- usually a peace lilly.  If for some reason she did not “feel good” about a particular person going, she would ask them in front of everyone, why they “had it to go”? If she did not agree, she would tell them, ” No, I don’t feel good about that…” or some other phrase to let that person know they were not needed or wanted at the funeral being discussed. It is obvious that attending funerals of non-members in the county is an “outreach” for Jane Whaley.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are some good readers inside of WOFF. I know for sure..  🙂 

     (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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Why Am I Explaining These Points?

     I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. – Thomas Jefferson

     Considering the above quote: Do cult mind control groups thrive on “tyranny over the mind of men”?    

     Why am I doing this? Why go to the extent to breakdown the similarities between FLDS and WOFF? First off, having been in WOFF for many years and under the near complete delusion that all was well within that group; it fascinates me to see how wrong I have been. It completely has my attention that I let the “little things” and questions go unanswered and allowed myself to be a part of a group that is SO FAR from normal. The nagging questions on the inside of me were not just “the devil”. It was the voice of sound reason, common sense and God wanting me to wake-up! Amazing…

     There were things that the group provided that I wanted. There was a camaraderie that existed when it was an “us against the world” kind of deal. You rarely ever stopped and ask “Why?” Why do so many folks think we are a cult? Why are there protesters in the street leading to the church holding signs about Jonestown and other such things? Why do so many other local churches organize a group to help folks get out of here? Why do we write down license plate numbers of strange cars when they come down the street? Why do the men dress so much alike? Why do the women have to show their new dresses in front of the whole congregation and take them back to the store if someone else already has that dress? Why did we all shave the facial hair off (if you had any…) in some euphoric demonstration of adherence to a new religious rule? Why do we men submit to the “only white or blue shirts” in the church services? Who first voiced that rule? How did I feel when other men got called out for having the wrong color shirt on in the sanctuary? How did I ignore this? Why did Jane explain the proper way to put toilet paper on the roll during a church service? Why did even the children correct or point out folks who did not follow the “toilet paper” rule? Why are we not allowed to take notes during a church service? Why is the leadership in general and Jane specifically so concerned with appearance? Does ironing your khakis make you a better Christian? Does wearing blue jeans “take you to hell”?

     There were things going on that never set right with me. But, what do you do? You know that voicing ANY negative thoughts or just plain good old fashion questions could land you in hot water. (you could be put in “church discipline” or even put out of the church – just for asking questions. Does that sound healthy?)  So, now that I can learn the answers to the questions I was never supposed to ask; it actually is overwhelming at times. It is hard to think about many other things other than getting answers and sharing them. Answers for me could help someone else who dares asks the same questions… Could WOFF actually be the ONLY group in the world that has it right? Are we the only ones that are going to make it in the end times? Now at WOFF, it was said, “We know we are not the only ones with Truth. There has to be other groups out there, we just have not found them yet..” As far as I know, there never was a search party sent out to find the “other groups” who had Truth. It was just known that others were “not walking where we were.. others did not have the revelation we had…”

     In “Lost Boy”, Brent Jeffs reflects on a time in sixth grade when a boy spoke up with a similar question.  “..(he) asked how our people could be the only ones in the world who are right. I can still remember the teacher’s reaction. It was as if she’d been hit in the face. She immediately grabbed the kid and dragged him into the hallway, shouting “You come with me. NOW!” I don’t know what happened to him, but we didn’t see him until the end of the day and no one ever asked a question like that again.” (page 75)

     So, yes to a large degree this whole practice is therapeutic. And it is a joy to think that others are concerned or even interested in my journey. For it is the similarities between the two groups that help draw obvious conclusions. If it quacks like a duck, if it waddles like a duck… it is more than likely a DUCK! FLDS is a “duck” for sure, and the case is being presented that WOFF is a “duck”. Be assured, there are yet more similarities to expound upon.

Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are some good readers inside of WOFF. I know for sure.. 🙂

(Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

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Reflections from “CHURCH OF LIES” – Flora Jessop

Flora Jessop had a struggle when she left FLDS, that hopefully no one will have to repeat. She tried many vices and suffered much hurt. After eight years, she came to the realization that it was time to stop running.

A quote from her book.. “After eight brutally hard years in the real world, I’d begun to have a glimmer of hope– maybe I really was worth something. I might be destined to burn for eternity, but I sure as hell was here now.  (new paragraph) I’d never give up what those first years on my own taught me. ..I learned that thinking for myself wasn’t such a bad thing after all.” (page 154)

Yes! There was an idea I could identify with. It was “thinking for myself” that had led to my exit from Word of Faith Fellowship. The two thoughts I had in May of 2008- “The people of the church were more afraid of Jane Whaley than God and that is what made us open to being called a cult”. Next, I had been looking up information on “shepherding movement” on the Internet. Though I had heard some about that movement a few years previous, I did not know the particulars. I began to see that much of what went on in that movement was going on at Word of Faith Fellowship. Intentional or not, it was the same in many regards.

Weeks later in June of 2008;  I shared my thoughts and doings with one of the church leadership. I knew sparks would fly and the consequences may be severe. So, two hours later I got a call from this person saying “I called Jane and told her about our conversation. She says you are out of the church. You need to get your heart right.” So, there I was kicked out. Turned out to be shakey at first. But, that was the common result for “thinking for myself” and not doing as the church preached- “submit your thoughts to God’s authority”.  That was code for only voicing good thoughts about Jane Whaley, her decisions, others in the church. If you had a “stray thought”, you were to come tell someone in leadership so it could be “dealt with”. You were to come “get Truth on the matter”. Critical thinking was not allowed or encouraged. Many times it was insinuated and in some cases voiced- “your own thoughts will take you to hell.. Don’t you know that the natural mind is an enmity against God!” That of course was meant to put fear in everyone for not having their thoughts “checked out”.

Flora Jessop shares in her book the struggles of other children coming out of FLDS and learning to think for themselves. She recounts the struggles of one girl just to decide how to pick up her clothes off the floor in her room. These girls had been told EVERYTHING to do and HOW to do it for years. Simple decisioning was a major struggle. (pages 181 and 213) This is the result of being under mind control and not having any confidence in your decisions without Church leader control.

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What is “Shunning”?

What is “shunning”? 

 shun – to keep away from; avoid scrupulously or consistently.
(Webster’s New World Dictionary)

– to keep clear of; avoid. (Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary)

Flora Jessop in CHURCH OF LIES  (see previous post..)  tells about her experience with “shunning”…

When she returned from running away with her friend, she expected to be shunned. (page 65) She defined shunning according to FLDS beliefs as “all love and affection is withheld”.. In her mind, she deserved it. But, her mother just put her arms around her and loved her. Her Dad on the other hand, reacted differently.

Later in the book, Flora describes being shunned for 2 years as she was confined to her room. She had no contact with her Mom or Dad. That was her reward for running away. She would work all day and then be confined to her room. On page 83, she describes the emotional toll the shunning was taking on her. Though my time of being shunned was not that severe, I could relate very much to the emotional toll that shunning and isolation had on her.

Why would Flora “expect” to be shunned? Could it be she had seen others be shunned and had actually shunned those “worthy” of being shunned? Yes, from personal experience, I would say that shunning was no secret to her. She had broken the rules of the sect. She knew how others had been treated when rules were broken. 

My experience in a strong controlling group mirrors Flora’s in many respects. During my time at Word of Faith Fellowship; I had seen others shunned and even participated in shunning. Once a person is put on “church discipline” or “put out of the church”; you didn’t speak to them unless you had permission from authority. This was shunning. I have seen folks go for weeks without contact or conversation with family or friends. This was supposed to “help them repent” and come “back under authority”. One fellow was quarantined for months. He spoke only to one person. He read only his Bible. He had meals brought to him. At times, his friends would take food to him when leadership would forget to feed him.  He stayed in a make shift bedroom at a large metal warehouse/office building. He was brought into the church and allowed to watch the services on a closed circuit television.

Starting in April until July of  2008, I was the subject of shunning. My family and other members of the household did not talk to me or eat with me. Hugs would become off limit and “no chatty conversation”. My wife would talk to me, but only to make her point that I needed to repent and “come back to God”. It was during this time, that I found out what lack of love and contact from those you loved could do to a person. What was even more stark and shocking was that the ones around me seemed to consider this behavior of shunning as normal and acceptable. Even if they had not believed it in their heart, they were pressured to go along with the shunning because that was the prescribed treatment for those like me. I was not following the admonitions of those in “leadership”. In order for them to keep in good standing, they had to shun me or risk being accused of “giving to the same devils” that were in me.

 In July of 2008, I left the controlling group- Word of Faith Fellowship. My family stayed. On June 6, 2008, I had been “put out of the church” and the shunning had gone to a new level. Since that time, contact with my family has been limited. In many regards, I am still being shunned.  

As Flora Jessop recounts in her book (pg 271), that she tried to contact her family once she had left the group. One account tells of a sister refusing to speak civil to her in a parking lot of a grocery store. Flora encouraged her to “..go back and read her books. I guarantee you, God doesn’t say, “Throw your family away like trash.”. (because they believe differently..)  The conversation was all to familiar. The practice of shunning is a common trait of many cult groups.

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